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Mass shootings prompt gun control debate

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The shooting deaths at Northern Illinois University renew the debate over gun control. A Sun editor offers his opinion about why access to guns should be restricted.

By Chris Magee
Assistant News Editor

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. – The Second Amendment

Feb. 14: 22 students shot at Northern Illinois University. Feb. 8: Three students shot at Louisiana Technical College. Feb. 7: Seven people shot at a city council meeting in Kirkwood, Mo. Feb. 2: Six women shot at a Lane Bryant store in Tinley Park.

These are just four of the more notable shooting incidents in the last few weeks.

Largely absent from the chatter surrounding these events was any discussion of gun control. In fact, most of the talk runs in the other direction, advocating concealed carry laws, which allow average citizens to carry guns concealed on their person wherever they go.

The logic in this argument seems to be that if everyone has a gun, people will be more reluctant to use them, much like the mutually assured destruction nuclear deterrent theory from the Cold War.

What works with nukes won’t necessarily work with guns. I can’t say I’d feel safer if I knew everyone was toting a gun, and it’s naïve to believe the women at Lane Bryant would have had guns if they were allowed. Are they going to be issued to you when you get your driver’s license? People still need to buy them, and many have no such inclination. What if criminals decide they’d better shoot first just to be safe? Whereas in the past a man robbing a convenience store may have just taken the money and run, now he’ll shoot the clerk and the customers first to make sure none of them is armed.

Before you dismiss my argument as coming from another liberal media wacko, know that I have voted Republican all my life. But there’s no sense in blindly adhering to party doctrine when it doesn’t make sense. This doesn’t have to be a partisan issue.

There is a certain segment of the population whose knee-jerk reaction is to oppose any form of gun control at any time, fearing that allowing one restriction will open the door to others. This reasoning that we cannot approve good laws because they might lead to bad laws down the road is holding our nation back.

We can argue forever about whether the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own a gun or merely a state’s right to maintain a national guard, but even if we concede that individual gun ownership is protected, we need to ask, is this the best thing for our country?

If gun ownership is a right, maybe it’s a right we need to relinquish.

No one is calling for a ban of all guns. Hunting rifles have a legitimate use, and although a shotgun was used in the NIU shooting, these weapons are rarely used in crime. Handguns, on the other hand, are designed for the purpose of shooting other people; they aren’t good for anything else.

If the expressed purpose of handguns is to protect oneself from other people with handguns, the logical solution would be to get rid of everyone’s handguns. "Then only the criminals would have guns," people say. But the reason criminals can get them so easily is because there are so many legal guns out there. Eliminate the legal guns and the illegal guns will start to dry up.

Every criminal has a first time; they are not born with criminal records. The NIU and Virginia Tech shooters purchased their guns legally. There is no way for a gun dealer to know that the person buying a gun now might turn crazy in five days or five years; they only see the buyer’s history.

Compare how often you hear of a crime prevented with a gun to the number of times you hear of a crime committed with a gun. It’s not even close. In a simple cost-benefit analysis, does the good handguns do outweigh the bad? It’s hard to make a compelling argument that it does.

Why do we insist on living in a world where people have to be armed to feel safe? Hasn’t mankind evolved beyond this point? We have conquered our frontiers, eliminated our natural predators, educated our children to value peace and nonviolent problem solving and loudly tell anyone listening that we have the greatest constitution and set of laws on earth, yet we are the only Western nation in which citizens feel the need to protect themselves from their fellow citizens.

Just as the only sure way to prevent conception is not to have sex, the only sure way to prevent gun violence is not to have guns.

There are two competing visions of safety. In one, folks stay safe by shooting the other guy before he can shoot them. In the other, handguns have gone the way of the rapier and we can go to school or the store without worrying about being shot.

We can all start packing heat and walk the streets with one hand on our weapon and feel like we’re on an equal playing field with the criminals, but we shouldn’t have to live that way. We can do better for ourselves.

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35 Comments

lets get like Austraila BAN all guns except for police..

Chris can say that the attack was pretty impulsive because he relies on rhetoric, not fact.
He claims that there is no proof that people protect themselves with guns after I gave him the definitive source on a study that proves just that.

He points to an incident in Missouri as his proof that concealed carry states cause violence. He fails to mention that states with concealed carry laws have strict restrictions on where the gun can be carried, and government buildings are first on that list. Frankly, I have not read anywhere that the city council shooter even had a concealed carry permit.

He also fails to mention that 48 states have some type of concealed carry law, and the blood has not been running down the streets. Quite the contrary, the crime rates go down in those states.

Finally, he uses the laughable comparison of a bat under the bed keeping him and his kids safe. Ask Hale DeMar of Wilmette if a baseball bat would have protected him against a habitual criminal that twice targeted his home. Of course, the DeMar case will make Chris happy because DeMar was prosecuted for his act of self defense in a town that bans handguns.

Chris –

The NIU killer acquired his weapons over a period of time (days to months, depending on which media outlet you read). He stayed in a motel in DeKalb for three days even though he lives in Champaign-Urbana. He discarded his computer hard drive and cell phone memory card. He called his girlfriend to say goodbye.

This is all planning. I don’t know how you could possibly say that this crime was “pretty impulsive”.

The NIU killer was widely believed to be a very smart student. If he didn’t have weapons at his disposal, I am quiet sure he would have found another way to kill. This isn’t about gun control, this is about mental health.

T.B.

T.B., I don't know if we'll ever know what the NIU killer was thinking, but I think his crime has to be seen as pretty impulsive from the information we know at this point. Sure, he owned some guns, but as everyone on this board keeps insisting, buying guns doesn't make you a killer. Everyone who knew him said he was happy, interested in peace and didn't seem like the kind of person who would hurt anyone. This isn't just about NIU though. Look at the city council shooting in Missouri. That one really sounds like a case where the shooter just got fed up with it and decided to take as many people with him as he could. Missouri does have a concealed carry law, and as I recall two police officers were shot in this attack. Neither the concealed carry law nor the officers on site stopped this person from his rampage, and he was prepared to die so he wasn't deterred by knowing there were armed people around. He was killed by the third police officer on scene. In this instance in a state with a concealed carry law and at least three officers on scene a man was still able to shoot seven people. JTW asks why there are no mass shootings in Indiana or Texas. Well, up until a few weeks ago there were none in Illinois either. These things can happen at any time, anywhere.

No, the quotes are not statistics, they are quotes. I just used them as an answer to the other quotes from experts that people are tossing out there. They're just someone's opinion like any other quote, but they are the opinions of experts with just as much weight as the opinions of any other expert. The statistics are from government information though. It is a fact that more Americans are shot in one day than in an entire year in some other nations. Am I the only one who sees something wrong there?

To point 1, I say that you will never be able to get the number of guns down to zero, but as is the case with bombs, when you limit it to the people with the know-how and determination to make it, you are really narrowing the pool significantly. No, you wouldn't disarm police. There was a story in the news last year about how New York officials were trying to get Virginia to crack down on their gun sales because so many people from New York were buying guns in Virginia and they were later being used in crimes in New York. Virginia told them to mind their business. But it was New York's business because they were suffering the consequences. This is what happens. People buy guns legally and resell them to illegal users. The only way you can ever hope to limit this is to cut them off at the source. It would likely take decades until guns became rare, but you have to start somewhere. And no one expects gang members to turn in their guns. But if they were no longer so easily available then when the police confiscated one it wouldn't be so simple for the gangbanger to just grab another one. Like I said, it would take awhile but eventually they'd be rarer.

Everyone talks about needing the guns to defend themselves, but how often does that really happen? I keep a baseball bat under my bed and I feel just as safe with that as I would with a gun, and at least I know my kid (if I had one) wouldn't be able to accidentally shoot himself or a friend with it.

It's not like I'm saying there are absolutely no benefits to owning a gun, but it's just a question of do the benefits outweigh the negatives. From my perspective, they do more harm than good.

Chris,

One other thing I noticed was that your "statistics" don't appear to be statistics at all. They are quotes by individuals that cannot be backed up or peer reviewed for correctness.

I think some of the other things you are overlooking are :

1) Even if you can't buy or steal one, you can always make one. It isn't hard to do. You can make the shell casings, powder, etc. "Zip" guns are easily made by gang members.

2) Similar to 1) above, would the police, federal officials, etc. be disarmed too ? I seem to recall there was a scandal a few years back where confiscated weapons that were supposed to be melted down / otherwise destroyed ended up back on the street, presumably due to a corruption issue.

3) No self-respecting gang member is going to part with his firearm for a measly $500.

4) If concealed carry is so bad, why aren't there mass shootings in Indiana and Texas were CC is allowed ?

5) The day I will even consider giving up the right to own a handgun is the day when I can sue the PD for wrongful death if my home and a family member is killed. Law enforcement concedes that they cannot be everywhere all the time, and the only time you can sue is if there is obvious negligence in their handling of 911 calls.

Chris –

While not totally agreeing or disagreeing with your point of view, I do disagree with some of what you said.

The NIU killer didn’t pick up his gun one day and decide to go out "in a blaze of glory", as you put it. It’s clear his attack was thought out and planned. If guns were not available to him, he would have found another way. This doesn’t seem to fit into your utopia.

T.B.

If you are confident in your assertions, Chris, it is because you did not bother to read the unbiased information provided. You go to a gun control site for your information. Do you really think they gave the facts a fair revue?

Once again, rhetoric does not displace the facts. You and your ilk would make criminals out of innocent people just to further your cause of disarming the American people, taking away their ability to defend themselves against the scum that don't care what the law says.

The trap with statistics is that different studies turn up different statistics to support different points depending on how the studies are conducted. Here is some information from the web site www.gun-control-network.org. First a few quotes:

"Homicide rates tend to be related to firearm ownership levels. Everything else being equal, a reduction in the percentage of households owning firearms should occasion a drop in the homicide rate".
- Evidence to the Cullen Inquiry 1996: Thomas Gabor, Professor of Criminology - University of Ottawa

And another:

"The level of gun ownership world-wide is directly related to murder and suicide rates and specifically to the level of death by gunfire."
- International Correlation between gun ownership and rates of homicide and suicide.' Professor Martin Killias, May 1993.

According to this site, the U.S. has 3.92 gun homicides per 100,000 people. While the U.S. is not at the top of the list, the countries higher than us are such nations as Colombia, Honduras, El Salvador and Venezuela. The nearest European nation on the list is Switzerland with 0.93. England has 0.10. In 2006/2007, there were a whopping total of 59 gun homicides in England and Wales, 27 of them with handguns. In 1999, there were 28,874 gun deaths in the U.S., which is 80 per day. (This does include suicide and other non-homicide deaths). Even taking into account the difference in population, that's just an incredible disparity.

Maybe the number of crimes are up in England since their gun ban. Maybe there are other factors at work too. Without having studied crime in England in depth, it's hard to say. Maybe England needs a better police force. Even if they are experiencing more crime, however, the key factor is the people are surviving that crime. There were a total of 765 homicides in England in 2005/2006. In 2005 in the U.S., there were 17,357 homicides, with 11,624 by firearm.

You can replace possessions, but once you're dead, you're dead, or you're shot in the spine and can never walk again. People in England don't walk into stores and knife five people to death. They don't go to high schools or colleges and knife thirty or forty people. England isn't perfect and no one has the answer to all crime, but at least when people are the victims of crime they usually walk away from it.

I agree with people who say that we need to treat the causes of crime. There are mentally disturbed people out there, there are economically disadvantaged people out there, there are those who simply would rather take other people's property than work for it. There is not one answer to all of our country's problems and that's why I've repeatedly said I'm not envisioning a utopia. My point is that handguns make it easy for one person to maim or kill many other people in a short period of time, which other alternative weapons simply won't do. Someone else mentioned bombs, but people who use bombs aren't doing it because they can't find a gun. The Columbine shooters had guns, and they had pipe bombs too. Palestinian and Iraqi terrorists have guns. Bombs are supplemental to their arsenal. Bombs take a lot of planning. Someone who is having a bad day can just grab their gun, head off to the mall and go out "in a blaze of glory." They're not afraid of other citizens being armed because most of the time they kill themselves in the end anyway.

You're never going to end all crime and there will be tradeoffs. If the solutions were easy we would have thought of them by now. With 28,000 people dead in one year in our supposedly civilized society, I am confident in my assertion that guns cause more trouble than they prevent.

Well Chris, many people here have explained what you are missing. Don't you have any more than rhetoric to combat facts? Your silence seems to indicate that you don't.

This was taken from an article written by Dick Fairburn of the Illinois State Police. It is geared towards other law enforcement personnel, but the points he makes are valid for non law enforcement people, too. Oh, and this was written before the NIU shootings.

“Several years ago a comprehensive study of active shooter incidents found that most were over too quickly for a Rapid Deployment Contact team to assemble and make entry into the kill zone. In almost every incident where an active killer was stopped before they fully ran their plan, someone on-scene took immediate action. Generally, these “Instant Responders” were security guards or ordinary citizens. Even when police officers did stop the shooter, they were either on-scene when the shooting started or the first to arrive at the call.”

And also…

“I live in one of the only two states that have no provision for concealed carry by permitted civilians. A researcher who tracks concealed carry statistics claims several potential mass murders are stopped each year by legally armed civilians, often without a shot being fired. Most of these mass killers are frightened little boys trying to make themselves famous as they go out in a blaze of glory. When confronted by a confident, armed adversary, many such shooters surrender with little more than a whimper.”

The full article can be found at http://www.policeone.com/writers/columnists/RichardFairburn/articles/1639392/

T.B.

It is too bad that the shootings at NIU prompt the gun debate.
The shootings were not about guns.
The shootings that we have seen and perhaps will continue to see are more about health care than guns. The guns may be the means but they are not the cause. The cause is a complex mixture of a hectic stressful world where the social myth is that all problems are best solved with violence. Mix in an extended adolescence that is a college education. Ignite with a government out of control, an economy that offers no hope to the young and it is a wonder that everyone isn't in the streets with guns pointed at each other.
The universe is sending a message and we aren't listening.

There is a lot of actual data to support Mike's post (February 18, 2008 05:26 PM).

I would add that there are some restrictions I see as really beneficial as follows:

>ALL guns MUST be registered
>NO automatic weapons
>NO armor piercing ammo
>NO guns to ANYONE with an established, legal history of mental problems
>NO concealed weapons without another specific permit
>ALL gun owners required to have the designation on their driver's liscence, passport, and any other ID cards
>ALL gun owners need to provide proof of storage safety (lockes, locked cabinets, etc)
>Establish a national death penalty for certain capital crimes committed with guns (examples:stalking and death, mass murder, serial murder)

For those who grew up in areas less priviledged than Naperville, you know that making guns illegal does nothing to stop the violence and deaths. Rules, however, do!

JOMO

There are several pieces of information or points of argument that may further inform the discussion here.

1) England is not any longer "low crime". Since guns were banned in England, crime has soared. The crime rate in England is now twice that of the U.S., and the crime rate in London is twice that in NYC, and higher than the crimme rate in ANY U.S. city. England is an island, and a gun ban is easier to enforce there than anywhere else in the world. Nevertheless, many criminals there still have guns. Violence in England with knives is growing quickly; knives are a mechanical means of violence that favors the strong over the weak. Further, a large percentage of the home burglaries in England occur while the residents are at home; the burglars get the residents to do the work of gathering up their valuables for them. In the U.S., a very small percentage of home burglaries occur while the residents are home. Criminals in prison have explained that their number one fear in committing a burglary is meeting an armed resident in the home.

2) The people who wrote the Second Amendment had just spent 25 yearsr shooting at the policemen and soldiers of their own government. The British were not invaders -- everybody in the colonies was British, it was British territory. Britain had a long history of civil rights, including gun rights, yet these rights had eroded by the time of the Revolutionary War, and were further eroded in the colonies by laws targeting the colonies specifically. The battles of Lexington and Concord which set off the American Revolution occurred when the colonists attcked a column of British soldiers marching out of Boston to Lexington and Concord to seize the colonists' arms in an attempt at enforcing gun control measures.

3) The multiple-victim shootings that occur in the U.S. occur in those places where the right to keep and bear arms is most restricted. Remember "going postal", coined from the number of post office shootings? Carrying a weapon is forbidden in a post office. School shootings? Federal law prohibits carrying a weapon in a school. University shootings? All of the multiple-victim university shootings of which I am aware occurred on "gun-free" campuses. The Lane Bryant shootings? Illinois is one of exactly two states in the U.S. that bans all forms of concealed carry by civilians. Multiple-victim shooters are insane, but they're not stupid. Multiple-victim shooting outrages occur where guns are BANNED, not where the are permitted.

4) In Indiana, IIRC 15% of the adult population has a concealed carry license. Many of these are women. With concealed carry, it may have been true that none of the Lane Bryant women would have been armed, but the robber could not have known that. The potential of running into an armed victim gives criminals pause. This is why crime decreases when concealed carry laws are passed.

5) Kennesaw, Georgia passed a law in 1982 making the ownership of a firearm by every family in town MANDATORY, this in response to Morton Grove, Illinois passing a law that made the possession of guns illegal. Guess which one has the lwer crime rate? Crime in Kennesaw plummeted, and there has not been a murder there in the 25 years since the law was passed.

Firearms do not commit violence. Firearms are a force multiplier, which "even the playing field" between the strong and the weak. Banning firearms leaves the weak defenseless and results in a society of fear and violence, as Britain has now become. Banning firearms results in the same bully atmosphere of a poorly-disciplined boarding school.

But do your own research. Ask a policeman whether they support the rights of law-abiding citizens to carry weapons concealed on their person for self-defense. The vast majority do. Ask a policeman what are the two most dangerous situations they ever find themselves in, and most will answer domestic violence calls and routine traffic stops. Now, ask those policemen how they feel when they run the plates and discover that the person they just pulled over has a concealed-carry permit and is probably armed. (You'll have to ask this of a policeman in a state other than Illinois or Wisconsin, which don't have concealed carry permits.) Those policemen will tell you that they have no concern whatever in pulling over people with concealed carry permits, because concealed carry permit holders almost never commit crimes.

When seeking solutions to public policy problems, emotional arguments are inappropriate tools to determine the actions most likely to result in the desired ends. Look at the facts. Look at what has been tried elsewhere, how well it has worked, or if it has failed. Emotional arguments are emotionally satisfying, but they provide little insight into effective solutions.

I'll give up my second amendment rights if you give up your first amendment rights first.

Chris, it is funny that you keep claiming that there is no data to support guns being used to protect people. You would think that someone like you that has the vast resources of your publication group would be able to find the research of Jon Lott, formally of the University of Chicago. He set out to prove your point with unbiased research on gun crime. The results: his book called More Guns, Less Crime with the scientific research that proves guns do indeed prevent crime (about 2 million times a year, by his research). In interviews, he says that no one was more amazed at the outcome of his studies that he was, as he used to be for gun control. Problem is, papers rarely publish self defense stories as it does not fit their anti-gun agenda. All you really have to do is google guns used for self protection and you will get a lot of facts that supplant your fictions.

You could blame Socialism for the reason gun control keeps popping up, or you could attribute it to the constant wave of shootings in our country. I know which one I think is more likely. There's no reason to bring Marx, Debs or Hitler into the equation. Our country has a serious problem and no one is doing anything about it. It seems the two ideas on the table are either concealed carry laws or eliminating handguns. Many states have concealed carry laws, and even if they reduce crime a little, there are still plenty of shootings. But our level of gun crime is far above that of most other countries aside from the ones where roving bands wander around with AK-47s. Reducing it by a few percentage points so there are only 5 shootings a day in Chicago instead of six isn't good enough improvement from my perspective.

Guns and Slavery

Chris, in Canada and Australia when they eliminated the right to self-defense through gun round ups; I believe that the government compensated the gun owners with approx. $500 in exchange for their God given right to self-defense.

Elected and non-elected officials from the Democratic Party attend the Socialist International conferences; no doubt this is why this bad idea keeps on surfacing in this country. I have lived in Europe and most of it is a benign police state.

Perhaps we can have a fire sale on the Bill of Rights and sell all of them back to the government for $5000 (suggested MSRP). The Government will get to set the price of course, so maybe your rights will be means tested; if you have any net worth that they haven't taxed away, you get zero. If you purchased a lot of stuff you can't afford, you can get a check. We don't want Chase bank or any other big financial institution to get into more financial trouble.

Or, maybe like other US government programs, your rights will be determined by your racial purity. Maybe we can have DNA testing to see who should own guns? Funny how Nazi ideas keep on appearing on Capitol Hill.

Chris -

I don't think the slavery comparison is especially valid in this case.

I’m not saying disarmament would be too hard, I’m saying all you would accomplish is the disarmament of law-abiding citizens while the criminals continued to be armed. Weapons smuggling would be the next get-rich-quick scheme for gangs and organized crime akin to bootlegging in the prohibition era.

For every nation like England with strict gun control and low rates of violence, there's a Switzerland where weapons are extremely prevalent and violence is low. For that reason, I don't think this is strictly an issue of weapons but more of a social issue of someone's willingness to kill. Until gangs and others can solve there problems in another manner, the killing will continue even if you were able to eliminate all weapons. They'd find a way.

T.B.

Groups like the NRA have way too many members with far too much money for there to ever be any kind of successful gun control movement, regardless of how strong the knee jerk reaction is whenever there is any type of shooting incident.

Either way, guns are not the problem, it's homicidal maniacs who will do anything they can to kill as many people as possible before offing themselves. If someone is dead set on mowing down their classmates, does anyone really believe gun control laws will do anything to stop that? We've had strict anti-drug legislation on the books forever, but has that ever removed people's access to drugs? When I went to high school and college parties it sure didn't seem like people who were in to drugs had any problem acquiring anything they wanted, regardless of legality.

Why wouldn't guns be the same way? Even IF through some type of wizard's magic guns were entirely removed from our country, what is stopping violent people to come up with new and exciting ways to kill people?

From Chris Magee's earlier post,

"But by removing the devices of efficient mass-murder, fewer bystanders are hurt and tragedies like these mass shootings are much harder to pull off."
Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people using nothing more than fertilizer and racing fuel. The Unabomber sent out 16 packages crafted of things you can pick up from the hardware store. The main ingredient that those responsible for the 2005 London bombings used in their explosives was hydrogen peroxide. The attacks on September 11th were carried out with nothing more than box cutters and plastic knives. The components of the explosives that suicide bombers in the middle east use can be purchased at a grocery store. The list goes on and on.

Insane people intent on killing others will do it by any means necessary. It's impossible to remove all devices of mass murder because deadly explosions capable of killing far more people than a pair of pistols and a shotgun can be created by anyone with time/desire to research the chemistry on the internet with common household products which would be silly to legislate or restrict.

All anti-gun legislation is going to do is cause is an increase in business in the already seemingly thriving black market for guns and/or force these maniacs to get creative. I'd almost rather these nut-jobs stick to guns. At least then they are limited by the amount of ammo they're able to carry. Bombs, even those made with components under your kitchen sink, seem to be far more lethal.

Guns are just the tools used, they are by no means the cause of incidents like the shootings at NIU. By removing the tool without addressing the cause, people set on killing others will just use a different (and potentially far more lethal) tool.

Anyone that is on medications for mental stability should not be allowed to own a gun; I'm wondering if this is another case of the "right to privacy" trumping all other rights?

I believe that any law-abiding citizen should have the means to defend themselves and be allowed to carry a gun if they desire. We don't need a policeman on every corner. The massacres that were forecast when the "right to carry laws" were passed in other states never materialized. Empty propaganda.

How many people die from?

*Gangs (drug related deaths and murders in addition to ruining the schools and our neighborhoods)

*Cigarettes

*Alcohol and related auto accidents

*Abortions (O' I forgot if you are too-small you are not a person you are a thing) what’s the count? 50 million and going strong? Hitler would blush

*High fat levels in junk food and hydrogenated oils at the fast food places? We are poisoning our kids.

All preventable causes of death.

Where is the outrage?

This is just another opportunity for political opportunists to capitalize on some free media.

Go Ritchie! All the people pulling the trigger in Chicago, Aurora and Joliet are the real victims of the second amendment. Everyone else just needs to hide in their basements permanently and we will all be safe.

It is a good point that disarming is a problem. If laws were passed to eliminate handguns, the government would probably have to have some kind of buyback program to avoid depriving people of their property. It's certainly not a situation where you pass a law one day and a month later guns are gone. They would have to find a good system to get rid of them and it would take decades probably until most of them were gone, and there would always be some out there. But that's why we elected leaders - to figure out things like this. Just saying, "it's too hard" isn't much of an answer.

People said similar things about the slavery problem though. What do you do with four million slaves? It's too many to deport, and the number keeps increasing. How do you compensate the owners for their lost property? How can these former slaves be expected to live on an equal basis with their former masters? For a long time our country looked at this question, shrugged, and said, "I don't know what to do" and let the problem fester and grow. Until finally we got a leader who was willing to risk being unpopular and not being re-elected to do what had to be done for the nation. In the long run, I think we can all agree it needed to be done.

With the political climate in our country and the power of the NRA lobby, I can't see us passing any real, serious gun control laws anytime soon. Our leaders have decided it's not politically worth the fight. But when you turn on the news every single day and hear about shootings and then you look at other similar nations like England and France where a shooting is a big deal and not an everyday occurence, you can't help but wonder if maybe we should be doing something more instead of accepting the status quo. We say we are the greatest nation on earth, so why do we let all these other nations do so much better than us on these problems?

Chris –

In a utopian world, maybe what you’re advocating would be good; however, we don’t live in that world. There are numerous laws criminalizing guns in Chicago, yet the gangs have them nonetheless (and use them freely). I don’t think this is solely based on the availability of legal handguns in the state. There is a large black market for guns and there will still be one if all guns were banned, too.

The biggest problem is how do you disarm? If you were to outlaw guns (Constitutional issues aside), then you’ll only exacerbate the situation in which law-abiding people are disarmed while criminals continue to arm themselves and prey on us all.

Is it possible we’ve reached a point of no return?

T.B.

Tom, the reason states with gun control still experience shootings is because they are half-measures. We need to go all the way on this if we really want to have an effect, so that the criminals no longer have guns. As long as there is a huge legal supply of guns, gun crime will always exist, and no waiting periods or psychological screenings are going to make a dent on the flow of guns to potential criminals.

It's not a question of a utopian vision, it just makes sense. If people can no longer shoot each other, they'll have to do something else. Maybe there will be more stabbings, more beatings. That segment of the population will still find a way to live the criminal lifestyle. But by removing the devices of efficient mass-murder, fewer bystanders are hurt and tragedies like these mass shootings are much harder to pull off. You can say it won't work, but we need to try something. Just saying it's always going to be this way and there are no good solutions is a cop out.

Mark, I appreciate your experience on the matter but I still believe there is a better way to protect against gun violence than by shooting the criminals first.

Sorry to inform you but it has already started by stripping business owners of their rights and telling them people can not smoke in their establishments.

I just got back from Mexico and several people told me they now go there on holiday instead of destintations in the USA due to all our crazy smoking laws which infringe on their rights.

Business go overshore with our jobs due to our ridiculous tax laws and wasteful government regulations.

The USA will go down a rat's hole due to government overkill not guns.

I don't smoke and I pheasant hunt. If I had a business idea, I would take it to another country.

Speaking as a former police officer and a current prosecutor (of more than 25 years), my strongly-held belief, shared by most of the law enforcement officials I know, is that the average citizen would be much safer if ordinary (and hopefully qualified) citizens were permitted to possess and carry handguns.

The call to ban guns is an understandable, visceral reaction to tragedies such as what occurred at NIU, but a reasoned examination of the scholarly studies on the topic shows that, without doubt, citizens living in jurisdictions with concealed carry laws are much safer.

It should also be noted that the call for gun bans generally originates from the privileged members of our society--the wealthy and educated who live in densely populated low crime areas with quick police responses. Unfortunately, gun bans leave the less privileged and those living in rural areas with little, if any, effective means of self-protection. Those who suggest that banning guns is the answer to violence in our society simply ignore reason.

We are clearly a long way from agreement on this one. Neither of us will be able to convince the other that their views are valid.

40 years ago, no one would have thought the gov't would legislate smoking in ones own business, or fanatics crashing planes into buildings on purpose and when the constitution was drafted they couldn't possible have foreseen email, internet, satellite communications, cable tv etc so by your same proposition we don't need the First Amendment either...or the 4th or 5th.

All I can say is you seem to yearn for a place where "everybody just gets along;" a near-utopian highly evolved state of being. But we on the other side live in the here and now. We're too much the realists, willing to assume responsibiity for our own rights of survival; not to cede our selves to yellow tape and the chalk outline. Chris, I would love to live in your world too but until you can convince us to be victims for the dream or "lay-down-and-die" martyrs for your views...well...good luck with that. Adeau.


If gun control is the ans than why is it that every state , city or even country that has enacted gun control of any type still have a raft of killings via shootings. All of the States that have adopted the right to carry laws requiring traing on handling a wepon safelyhave never produced the mass shootings that was perdicted? In fact they all have noticed a reduction. It's another one of those stupid debates like abortion we tend to discuss the results of a miss deed and not the root cause. Neither side is going to change thier mind nor are they going to educate thierself about the issuie.Most people don't even what to hear about it,

Sigh. It's so sad to see these same, tired arguments being trotted out to support gun ownership. Look, the Second Amendment was created when there was no police force, no National Guard, no modern standing army, no streetlights: we only had a small army and a scattered, ragtag militia that relied on muskets. Can't we agree that the need for an armed citizenry has long since passed?

Second, the whole "cars and alcohol kill, too" debate is a false one. Cars aren't designed to kill; they are created to take us from Point A to Point B. Alcohol is meant to be consumed, not used as a weapon. Knives, axes, cleavers: all are designed with a positive use in mind. Only guns are created with a singular, sinister intent: one of violence. They are designed to shatter bone, pierce flesh, maim, paralyze and kill. And they do their job most effectively.

The argument that guns would somehow reduce crime is a myth. I'm astounded to see the usual people telling us that this wouldn't have happened if students in the classroom had been armed. Do you really want to see campuses full of students packing heat? Students who are known to party too hard, come under enormous pressure, and engage in silly stunts? Talk about a prescription for tragedy.

Finally, the black-helicopter brigade likes to put forth the illusion that an armed citizenry would be needed to forestall a Soviet-type purge. First, no one really believes anything like that could happen; our country does not possess any of the traits of Cambodia, Turkey or another other of the nations offered as examples. Second, if such a science-fiction event were to take place, wouldn't it make more sense to arm our citizens with grenade launchers, tanks and vials of anthrax? Talk about a strong defense!

Uncle Buckeye says that, with this debate, "the usual craziness begins." Five innocents in DeKalb are dead, Uncle B. And this follows massacres in Virginia, Denver, Minnesota ... the list goes on and on. And you think the craziness is just beginning? I'd rather ask: When do you want it to end?

Jon, the difference between guns and the other things you list is that those other things have benefits to their use that outweighs the drawbacks. I challenge you or anyone to give a good explanation of how on a day to day basis our society derives more benefits from the personal possession of handguns than it suffers from their use. Take the number of innocent people shot in one day in the United States and show how that is balanced out by the benefits of handgun ownership. I'm honestly interested to hear what people have to say on this because I don't see those benefits myself. Explain what I am missing.

To IC, I fail to see how banning handguns leaves us defenseless against foreign and domestic enemies. We have a quite substantial Army for the foreign enemies, and as for domestic, as I said before, even if handguns were banned, many other types of weapons would still be available. In the earlier examples you listed, like the Nazi Holocaust, the people not having guns was not the issue. They didn't fight back because they didn't believe that what happened was really going to happen until it was too late. They thought they were being relocated, so they went along with it. Having guns wouldn't have helped. It seems quite improbable that things in our nation are going to reach a point in the foreseeable future where an armed rebellion is necessary. From Shays' Rebellion to the Civil War, those haven't turned out well historically.

Yes Chris, we may in fact need something more than a handgun to protect ourselves from a "run-amok" government. And yes, we are a nation of laws...until we're not. Look at Springfield IL and the US congress in recent decades where laws don't apply to those in power. Where's the balance point if my only defense is my pen...that is until the First Amendment is systematically eradicated? It is, however, a slippery slope. Are you aware that in light of NIU, Rep. Edward Acevedo, a Democrat from Chicago, is quietly discussing banning pump-action shotguns? Rest assured there are others thinking the same. There's 7 more gun-control bills are in queue next week, further leaving peace-loving people at the mercy of thugs, killers and those that think they know whats best for me. What kind of legacy will you leave for your children by leaving them completely defenseless against every enemy, foreign and domestic? How much control over your life do you want to abrogate to the government? Congress has already mandated the type of lightbulbs we are to use in the near future. I'm just looking down the road a spell and I don't see evolutionary tranquility. The DNA differences and human tendancies between despots and the "civilized" are not that great. Please take 5 minutes read what is going on in England (and Australia) since they instituted their complete ban on all guns. Their a bit further along the curve than the US but the all the signposts are in place here to got the same route. http://www.cato.org/pubs/policy_report/v26n2/cpr-26n2-1.pdf then get back to me. Thank you for the debate.

Sure lets take away guns since they hurt people. Next we can take away alcohol since it hurts people. Next we can take away cars since they can hurt people. Next lets take away television since television can hurt people. Next take away cell phones since they can hurt people. Next don't allow people out in the sun since the sun hurts people.. On and on and on.

The only way that gun control in our country is comparable to those other examples is if we suddenly elect Pol Pot president. Every one of those nations except Germany was either a Third-World nation or a second-tier European nation with little history of fair laws or free government. What makes America different is that we live under a system of laws and we elect our leaders every two or four years. You just can't logically compare the United States to Uganda or Guatemala. Other nations with gun control include most of the nations of Europe, and they have less crime and fewer murders. People can still commit crimes with knives and other weapons, but it virtually eliminates the mass killings. Besides, if you need to defend yourself from the government storm troopers, you're going to want a rifle, not a handgun, and those would still be available.

In 1911, Turkey established gun control. Subsequently, from 1915 to 1917, 1.5-million Armenians, deprived of the means to defend themselves, were rounded up and killed.

In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. Then, from 1929 to 1953, approximately 20- millon dissidents were rounded up and killed.

In 1938 Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945 over 13-million Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, mentally ill, union leaders, Catholics and others, unable to fire a shot in protest, were rounded up and killed.

In 1935, China established gun control. Subsequently, between 1948 and 1952, over 20-million dissidents were rounded up and killed.

In 1956, Cambodia enshrined gun control. In just two years (1975-1977) over one million "educated" people were rounded up and killed.

In 1964, Guatemala locked in gun control. From 1964 to 1981, over 100,000 Mayan Indians were rounded up and killed as a result of their inability to defend themselves.

In 1970, Uganda got gun control. Over the next nine years over 300,000 Christians were rounded up and killed.

Over 56-million people have died because of gun control in the last century

So Chris...I hate to say it but your running barefoot throught the lilly fields.

The usual craziness begins. One, the Second Amendment is still the Second Amendment, which guarantees the right of the individual, the defacto militia as designated at the conception of the Constitution, to own and bear arms. At least until some liberals are able to alter it. Two, neither the government nor law enforcement has ever been able to protect us from everything. How many people have been killed by a knife or club-wielding assailant after calling 911?

This is not republican v democrat it is about rights. Guns in the past were even more accessible than they are now and they never precipitated the degree of senseless killing we see today. Is it surprising that States with concealed carry laws experience a reduction in crime?

Just what is happening in society to day that precipitates the violence we are beginning to see so routinely? Given the choice of calling 911 after a home invasion, if there is time, and waiting for law enforcement assistance or being able to protect myself I think I would choose to do my own protecting.

Gun ownership is a right given by the Constitution so it's never going to be completely taken away. But compare it to abortion, and how some states make it so restrictive that there are no more doctors performing abortions. We could do the same thing with guns: increase the waiting period from a couple days to a couple months, require some sort of mental health evaluation prior to purchase, and more steps that would keep guns out of the hands of crazies who go on shooting sprees for no good reason.

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